TAMPA, Fla. -- Talk to Tampa Yankees second baseman Corban Joseph
for a few minutes and it's easy to see why he's one of the better players in the Florida State League.
Sure, it helps to have natural talent. Otherwise, he wouldn't be leading the league with 26 doubles and wouldn't be among the top hitters with a .313 average.
Listening to Joseph, the Tennessee native is very much a studious soul. Watching and learning from others, he has figured out that what a player does off the field has a direct bearing on what happens on the field.
In the past, Joseph was a self-admitted slow starter. It took him a few weeks, if not months, to really get into overdrive. But after playing an extended spring training schedule with New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Joseph learned the value of preparation.
"I had the opportunity and great pleasure to play with [Rodriguez], Corban said. "It was awesome. It was a great experience to see how he carries himself and how he comes to the park ready to play every day."
Joseph also was struck by how down to earth Rodriguez was, when he easily could have big leagued teammates, many of whom may never get inside a Major League clubhouse.
"He was cool, a great guy," Joseph said. "He didn't have a lot of time to talk, which is understandable, but it was cool to have the time to play with him. He just played hard. He got real hyped up when we were winning. That was good. He was part of the team.
"He made me feel that I had to be at the top of my game, that I wanted to make him feel comfortable. He is one of the best players, if not the best player, in the game right now. Just [to see up close] how he approaches the game with his hitting and his fielding ... just the preciseness he has, it makes you want to get to that level. It encourages you, just to watch him step by step in his preparation."
Rodriguez's influence on Joseph was reinforced in Spring Training when Joseph monitored Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano.
"You see [Rodriguez's] whole routine that he has even before he takes the field," Joseph said. "Then in Spring Training, we watched Jeter and Cano. Just the preparation they do before the game. ... I compared that with what I do and [realized] I wasn't taking as many swings or wasn't doing things consistently like they do. They do the same things every day."
With a sharpened sense of preparation, Joseph decided he would pattern his daily routine after some of the best who've worn the pinstripes. As a result, he's no longer a slow starter. Joseph was on top of his game from Opening Day and his numbers are a direct reflection.
"I took bits and pieces from [Rodriguez, Jeter and Cano] and I knew I had to make a plan to do daily and keep working on that," he said.
Despite playing in the same organization as Rodriguez, Jeter and Cano, it's not like Joseph can text them for advice. That's where his brother, Caleb, comes in.
The elder Joseph plays at Double-A Bowie in the Orioles organization. Often, Corban picks his brother's brain on what he should do and how he should play. After all, his brother has been there, done that in the Minors. He understands what his brother is going through, and the resource Corban Joseph has in his brother is nearly as valuable as what he learned from Rodriguez, Jeter and Cano.
"It's always good to have a family member who has gone through what you are going through," Joseph said. "He helps me when I'm in my slumps. It's nice to have another insider you can reach out to and trust."
Pounding the ball: Brevard County 1B Brock Kjeldgaard had nearly a week's worth of RBIs in one game, almost beating Charlotte single-handedly. The Edmonton, Alberta, native drove in seven runs in a 15-7 win over the Stone Crabs at Viera. He went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers and a double, giving him 53 RBIs on the season.
Two for the price of one: Charlotte fans got far more than they paid for July 19 when they witnessed Daytona edge the Stone Crabs in 19 innings, 4-3. Kyler Burke's double to left scored Ryan Flaherty to end a string of nine consecutive scoreless frames. Flaherty's also was Daytona's first run since the opening inning. Charlotte had scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. Despite the 19 innings, the game was finished in 5 hours, 13 minutes.
"Boss" left the office: A day after he was laid to rest, there was barely any evidence of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's passing at the stadium that bears his name. Steinbrenner Field is the home of the Tampa Yankees and where Steinbrenner kept an office. Under stormy skies Sunday, the staff, if not the crowd, seemed solemn. The only obvious homage to Steinbrenner was on an electronic billboard outside the stadium normally reserved for advertisements and game day specials that informed passersby on Dale Mabry Highway that "The Boss" had died.